Hints on Answering Multiple Choice Cloze Passages

published by cristina

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In this kind of exercise, you must choose one word or phrase from a set of three or four (a, b,c or d)  to fill a gap in the text. This exercise tests a number of items.
It can test grammar
It may involve choosing a word that fits in with the grammar of the sentence. For example:
He never ... in reaching the source of the river a. managed    b. achieved    c. arranged     d. succeeded  
The only answer is “succeeded”, not because it is the only word that fits in with the meaning but because it’s the only one that is followed by “in” and a gerund.
It can test meaning
It may involve choosing a word according to the meaning only. For example:
It’s common for ... to visit Pravia during the summer. a. observers     b. spectators     c. sightseers      d. passers-by  
The right answer is “sightseers” because it’s the only one that fits in terms of meaning.
It can test “fixed phrases”
It may involve choosing a word that fits in a set phrase. For example:
They didn’t ...  notice of me, so I left. a. pay    b. take    c. get    d. bring
The answer is “take” because it is part of the phrase “take notice of”.
It can test collocations
It may involve choosing a word that usually goes together with another word. For example
This region has a ... history and culture a. rich     b. wealthy      c. well-off     d. affluent
The answer is “rich” because it’s the only one that goes with “history”.
It can test “phrasal verbs”
It may involve choosing a word that forms a phrasal verb, with the correct meaning. For example
Scientists have been quick to ... out the problems with the new theory. a. give    b. point   c. let   d. come
The answer is “point”, not because the other words do not form phrasal verbs with the word “out”, but because “point out” fits in with the meaning of the sentences.
Some Tips
How to approach these exercises
Read the title carefully and the text as a whole to get the general idea of what it is about. You can try and guess the missing word without looking at the choices first if you want (though this is not easy).
What can I do to prepare for this kind of exercises?
Read as widely as possible so that you familiarize yourself with collocations and learn whole phrases rather than individual words. Do vocabulary practice exercises that bring out the differences in meaning between similar words.
Before making your choice, read the whole sentence to make sure it makes sense.
Source: Cambridge first certificate practice tests.